A PASAY regional trial court (RTC) cleared former President and current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of charges of electoral sabotage during the 2007 senatorial elections.
In a Dec. 17 ruling, the Pasay City RTC Branch 112 granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Ms. Arroyo.
“For failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of accused Arroyo beyond reasonable doubt and moral certainty despite ample opportunity and even without evidence in favor of said accused, the Demurrer to Evidence is granted and the charge of ‘electoral sabotage’ against accused Arroyo is hereby dismissed,” the ruling penned by judge Jesus B. Mupas read.
The case stemmed from allegations that Ms. Arroyo, who was then president, instructed then Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to ensure a 12-0 victory for her Tahanan Ekonomiya Aktibo at Magsasaka (TEAM) Unity senatorial ticket in Maguindanao during the 2007 polls.
Mr. Ampatuan then allegedly ordered Attorney Lintang Bedol and Provincial Administrator Norie Unas to tamper results of the elections. Mr. Unas is the case’s whistleblower and witness.
“In the case of accused Arroyo, there is no showing that she committed any overt acts towards the commission of electoral sabotage nor did she directly participate therein or even exerted moral ascendancy over her co-accused to commit the crime,” the court said.
“Judiciously examining the evidence, both documentary and testimonial, presented by the prosecution during the more or less seven (7) years that the present case has been undergoing trial, this court finds that the prosecution has failed to discharge its duty to prove the guilt of accused Arroyo beyond reasonable doubt, even in the absence of controverting evidence on the part of the accused,” it added.
The court also noted Mr. Unas’ testimony wasn’t the same as the 12 other witnesses in the case, saying that no one mentioned the name of Ms. Arroyo in relation to electoral sabotage.
“This alone is fatal to the case of prosecution,” the court said.
A P1 million bond posted for Ms. Arroyo’s provisional liberty was also ordered released by the Pasay RTC. — Gillian M. Cortez